Walkback complete: US recognizes winner in Honduran elections

Rick Moran
What can you say? How often does the United States stake out a clear, unequivocal position on a major foreign policy event and then, over the course of a few months, slowly walkback from their original position to come around and embrace exactly the opposite point of view?

This is the Obama administration in all its amateurish glory. When Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was invited to leave back in June, the administration took the same side as the thugs and dictators of the world, calling it a "military coup" even though the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled the action legal and the Honduran parliament had passed a resolution supporting it.

The administration then imposed severe restrictions on visas for Honduras and other punishments in order to prove to the leftist thugs in Latin America like Chavez and Eva Morales that the US was on their side in the crisis. And notably, as late as September, the US was saying that they would not support or recognize the Honduran elections which took place yesterday.

Back then, according to this Bloomberg piece by Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, the United States stood against democracy in Honduras:

The U.S. won't recognize a scheduled November election in Honduras without a resolution to the political crisis that began with a coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya in June, a State Department aide said.The U.S. has told the "de facto regime that because of the environment on the ground, we will not recognize the election," Philip J. Crowley, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said in Washington yesterday.

On Sept. 27, the de facto government led by interim President Roberto Micheletti banned protests and suspended other civil rights for 45 days and denied entry to an Organization of American States delegation seeking to negotiate an end to the three-month standoff in the Central American nation.

At an emergency meeting of the 35-member body of the OAS in Washington yesterday, both sides were criticized for their actions.

In case you were wondering, nothing has changed since this piece was written. Zelaya snuck back into the country and is hiding in the Brazilian embassy, but no "resolution" to the crisis by the "de facto" government has been realized.

Unless you want to say that free and fair elections in which 60% of the Honduran people went to the polls and voted to elect Porfirio Lobo, an opponent of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, by a landslide.

The BBC:

The poll was held five months after Mr Zelaya was forced out at gunpoint, with an interim government taking over.

Mr Lobo is seen as a unifying figure. He won 56% of the vote, with over 60% of registered voters taking part.

A clear winner and high turnout were what the interim government were hoping for to give the election legitimacy.

But regional powers Argentina and Brazil have said they will not recognise any government installed after the election, arguing that to do so would legitimise the coup which ousted an elected president, and thus set a dangerous precedent.

Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva also said that Mr Zelaya will remain in its embassy in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa - where he has been living since he secretly returned to the country in September - until the government gave assurances for his safety.

The US, meanwhile, said it would accept the election results.

Funny how the Obama administration didn't announce their change in policy. They allowed South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint to break the good news to the American people earlier this month. DeMint had just returned from a trip to Honduras and reported on the "de facto" government's efforts to make the election inclusive, and fair.

From MercoPress:"

I am happy to report the Obama Administration has finally reversed its misguided Honduran policy and will fully recognize the November 29th elections" added Senator DeMint.

"Given this commitment, which Senator DeMint has requested for months, he will lift objections on the nominations of Arturo Valenzuela to be Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs and Thomas Shannon to be US Ambassador to Brazil".

Several Latin American countries - including, disappointingly, Brazil - will not recognize the vote. But it appears that Honduras has survived the effort to delegitimize its government by the US and other leftist bullies in the region.

The real story, of course, is the unbelievably amateurish actions of the Obama administration in not supporting democracy in Honduras in the first place. Many said at the time that the almost off the cuff reaction by the White House to Zelaya's ouster was mishandled from the start and based on incomplete information. This view was buttressed when, in August, the Law Library of the Library of Congress issued a report by the Congressional Research Service that declared the Honduran government's actions legal and justified. Democrats were furious and tried to get the report withdrawn - and for good reason. It made the president and his advisors look like they didn't know what they were doing.

So Honduras has a new president, elected by 56% of the voters, and Manuel Zelaya (whose term ends on January 27) will soon be a footnote in Honduran history. And as Mary O'Grady of the Wall Street Journal points out, it was the Honduran people and government - with no help from the US - who stood defiantly against most of the world and proved that they have what it takes to make democracy work.

Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution.

Yesterday's elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle.

National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

The fact that the U.S. has said it will recognize their legitimacy shows that this reality eventually made its way to the White House. If not Hugo Chávez's Waterloo, Honduras's stand at least marks a major setback for the Venezuelan strongman's expansionist agenda.

The losers in this drama also include Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Spain, which all did their level best to block the election. Egged on by their zeal, militants inside Honduras took to exploding small bombs around the country in the weeks leading to the vote. They hoped that terror might damp turnout and delegitimize the process. They failed. Yesterday's civic participation appeared to be at least as good as it was in the last presidential election. Some polling stations reportedly even ran short, for a time, of the indelible ink used to mark voter pinkies.


The American people will not be informed of this pitiful about face by our government. But the Honduran people don't need our State Department's blessing or condemnation to know what they have accomplished this day.




What can you say? How often does the United States stake out a clear, unequivocal position on a major foreign policy event and then, over the course of a few months, slowly walkback from their original position to come around and embrace exactly the opposite point of view?

This is the Obama administration in all its amateurish glory. When Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was invited to leave back in June, the administration took the same side as the thugs and dictators of the world, calling it a "military coup" even though the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled the action legal and the Honduran parliament had passed a resolution supporting it.

The administration then imposed severe restrictions on visas for Honduras and other punishments in order to prove to the leftist thugs in Latin America like Chavez and Eva Morales that the US was on their side in the crisis. And notably, as late as September, the US was saying that they would not support or recognize the Honduran elections which took place yesterday.

Back then, according to this Bloomberg piece by Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, the United States stood against democracy in Honduras:

The U.S. won't recognize a scheduled November election in Honduras without a resolution to the political crisis that began with a coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya in June, a State Department aide said.

The U.S. has told the "de facto regime that because of the environment on the ground, we will not recognize the election," Philip J. Crowley, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said in Washington yesterday.

On Sept. 27, the de facto government led by interim President Roberto Micheletti banned protests and suspended other civil rights for 45 days and denied entry to an Organization of American States delegation seeking to negotiate an end to the three-month standoff in the Central American nation.

At an emergency meeting of the 35-member body of the OAS in Washington yesterday, both sides were criticized for their actions.

In case you were wondering, nothing has changed since this piece was written. Zelaya snuck back into the country and is hiding in the Brazilian embassy, but no "resolution" to the crisis by the "de facto" government has been realized.

Unless you want to say that free and fair elections in which 60% of the Honduran people went to the polls and voted to elect Porfirio Lobo, an opponent of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, by a landslide.

The BBC:

The poll was held five months after Mr Zelaya was forced out at gunpoint, with an interim government taking over.

Mr Lobo is seen as a unifying figure. He won 56% of the vote, with over 60% of registered voters taking part.

A clear winner and high turnout were what the interim government were hoping for to give the election legitimacy.

But regional powers Argentina and Brazil have said they will not recognise any government installed after the election, arguing that to do so would legitimise the coup which ousted an elected president, and thus set a dangerous precedent.

Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva also said that Mr Zelaya will remain in its embassy in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa - where he has been living since he secretly returned to the country in September - until the government gave assurances for his safety.

The US, meanwhile, said it would accept the election results.

Funny how the Obama administration didn't announce their change in policy. They allowed South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint to break the good news to the American people earlier this month. DeMint had just returned from a trip to Honduras and reported on the "de facto" government's efforts to make the election inclusive, and fair.

From MercoPress:"

I am happy to report the Obama Administration has finally reversed its misguided Honduran policy and will fully recognize the November 29th elections" added Senator DeMint.

"Given this commitment, which Senator DeMint has requested for months, he will lift objections on the nominations of Arturo Valenzuela to be Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs and Thomas Shannon to be US Ambassador to Brazil".

Several Latin American countries - including, disappointingly, Brazil - will not recognize the vote. But it appears that Honduras has survived the effort to delegitimize its government by the US and other leftist bullies in the region.

The real story, of course, is the unbelievably amateurish actions of the Obama administration in not supporting democracy in Honduras in the first place. Many said at the time that the almost off the cuff reaction by the White House to Zelaya's ouster was mishandled from the start and based on incomplete information. This view was buttressed when, in August, the Law Library of the Library of Congress issued a report by the Congressional Research Service that declared the Honduran government's actions legal and justified. Democrats were furious and tried to get the report withdrawn - and for good reason. It made the president and his advisors look like they didn't know what they were doing.

So Honduras has a new president, elected by 56% of the voters, and Manuel Zelaya (whose term ends on January 27) will soon be a footnote in Honduran history. And as Mary O'Grady of the Wall Street Journal points out, it was the Honduran people and government - with no help from the US - who stood defiantly against most of the world and proved that they have what it takes to make democracy work.

Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution.

Yesterday's elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle.

National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

The fact that the U.S. has said it will recognize their legitimacy shows that this reality eventually made its way to the White House. If not Hugo Chávez's Waterloo, Honduras's stand at least marks a major setback for the Venezuelan strongman's expansionist agenda.

The losers in this drama also include Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Spain, which all did their level best to block the election. Egged on by their zeal, militants inside Honduras took to exploding small bombs around the country in the weeks leading to the vote. They hoped that terror might damp turnout and delegitimize the process. They failed. Yesterday's civic participation appeared to be at least as good as it was in the last presidential election. Some polling stations reportedly even ran short, for a time, of the indelible ink used to mark voter pinkies.


The American people will not be informed of this pitiful about face by our government. But the Honduran people don't need our State Department's blessing or condemnation to know what they have accomplished this day.